For The Independent
The Lewis County girls basketball team gave up exactly 50 points in a 16-point loss at East Carter on Jan. 28.
The Lady Lions surrendered another 50 in Saturday's 16th Region first-round game against the Lady Raiders, but with much better results: Lewis County 53, East 50, at Morehead State University's Ellis T. Johnson Arena.
Lewis County knocked off East Carter in the first round of the region tournament last year as well.
Lewis County fans from Vanceburg to Garrison to Firebrick can thank sophomore guard Emily Frye, senior guard Taylor Frye (they're not related) and sophomore center Savannah Anderson for helping the Lady Lions advance to Monday's 7:30 p.m. semifinal against defending region champion Ashland.
The statistical lines: Emily Frye — 18 points, three assists and three steals; Taylor Frye — 13 points, three steals; and Anderson — 10 points, 16 rebounds, eight blocks and three assists.
“I don't go for individual (statistics),” Emily Frye said. “I just play for my team.”
Lady Raider fans should celebrate what junior Bryana Greenhill did: she scored 20 points. East coach Hager Easterling thought last year's team could have won at least seven more games (the Lady Raiders ended up 17-16) if Greenhill hadn't been ill so much, which made this year's 24-8 record somewhat satisfying.
“Our kids fought … right to the end,” Easterling said. “I've coached 33 years now, and (this year's team is) one of the best groups of kids I've ever coached.”
Those same East supporters probably will lament the bucket that didn't count — an Alexis Pennington game-tying 3-pointer with six seconds left in the game that was nullified because Easterling called a timeout an instant before.
Easterling had made up his mind long before Pennington took the shot.
“We just looked disconcerted,” Easterling said. “... It's not even an issue with me. I'm sure it is, probably, with a lot of our fans.”
After the timeout, East's Kelsey Stumbo's attempted three fell off the back of the rim.
“Kelsey got a good shot at the end, it just didn't go down,” Easterling said. “Give Lewis County credit. They're very talented.”
What Lewis County did Saturday could have been the result of what coach Jay Fite did in last week's practices.
Russell knocked off the Lady Lions, 59-53, for the 63rd District title on Feb. 21 at Raceland. As a result, Fite had a boulder on his shoulder.
“We had some rough practices,” Fite said. “We were pretty tough on them, to be honest with you … I thought they responded well. They probably didn't like me very well (last week).”
Except for Greenhill's 12 first-half points, the Lady Lions' first-half defense was stout. It limited the Lady Raiders to 35.7 percent shooting (10-of-28), forced nine turnovers, and kept East off the scoreboard the final 2:16 of the first quarter and a nearly three-minute stretch of the second.
For the night, the Lady Lions held East to 17-of-57 shooting for 29.8 percent. Lewis County's offense wasn't a lot better — just 42.5 percent from the field on 17-of-40 shooting.
Sometimes Lewis County (18-12) took advantage in the first half. Taylor Frye's four points and a McKenzie Thompson 3-pointer helped tie the score at 13-all after eight minutes.
Other times, the Lady Lions did not: they committed 10 turnovers and missed three of four free throws over the final 1:44 of the second quarter.
So why did East lead by just 25-23 at halftime? Possibly because the Lady Raiders scored just one field goal — Kerie Steele's with 48 seconds remaining — over the last 3:35.
Fite said today's preparation for Ashland — a 41-23 winner over Rowan County last night — wouldn't be nearly as hard as last week, but before his team left its locker room, he hoped a remnant of last week remained.
“I do want them to understand the importance of coming out ready to fight,” Fite said. “I did mention before we left, I want that chip to stay where it's at.”